Black Americans, Freedom, and Gratitude


by baldilocks

Originally posted in 2012 at my old blog. Slightly edited.

Consider it a glancing commentary on reparations for the descendants of American slavery. Short version: I’m against it. All debts in the matter are paid.

Recently, I had a misunderstanding with a Facebook friend about a comment I left on her page.  My comment wasn’t directed at her and the particulars of the misunderstanding aren’t important, but I’ve seen the idea floating around for some years now — especially since it has become well known that there are a lot of black Americans who still hold a grudge against white Americans for slavery and Jim Crow and especially since a certain person became President of the United States — that black Americans ought to be grateful for those white Americans who died “for” our ancestors’ freedom.

Let’s get something straight.

I’m quite grateful to God for planting me in this country —  in spite of the means of how it was done — because it delivered me and mine from idolatry and Islam.  God makes all things work together for the good for those who love Him and are called to His purposes.

This country was founded on freedom for all and, though it took some time, America has lived up to its founding.  I hate the fact that Americans had to walk in the wilderness to make that happen: to kill each other in a Civil War and to make some of its citizens live in quasi-citizenship for 100 years after that.  But it happened, nonetheless. It happened because of the existence of the founding and because of that founding’s nature.

Here’s the pertinent question: did those who fought for the freedom of my ancestors 150 years ago and for the true citizenship of me, my parents and grandparents fifty-plus years ago (my lifespan) do it to earn the gratitude of black Americans or did they do it for God and/or the honor of our country?

One wonders if black Americans’ freedom could have been accomplished without the bloodshed. Perhaps not, but black slaves certainly did not make white Americans kill each other over the bondage of the former.

If life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are gifts from the Creator and are granted to all human beings, then those who defend the same should not care about gratitude from other human beings. As far as this matter goes, any gratitude which the likes of me might offer only serves to engender pride in the recipient.  And pride is a sin; all types of pride.

True freedom fighters have the clean conscious of God. May that be enough for them.

UPDATE: From the comments at my old blog:

I’ve lived a relatively long time and I’ve never known or heard of anyone who “demanded gratitude” for the sacrifices made to free the slaves in this country. Has anyone? That’s a straw man…

Some people are quick to call you a liar when your experience doesn’t match theirs.

Humans …

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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